I resumed my research on James today, after a hiatus of a month or more. Found some insightful stuff that helps explain how he became the man he was. I just love the opportunity that UT’s Center for American History provides for me to do some hands-on research. Ah, the joys and benefits of living in Austin…

Speaking of hands-on research, I did something yesterday I should have done long ago as part of my work on The Day-Glo Brothers: I bought a black light. (The brothers’ early experiments were with UV fluorescence; their development of daylight fluorescence came later.) My six-year-old loves it, as do the rest of us. We all crowded into a tiny closet, just us and the lamp with a black-light bulb, to see what would glow. I have a feeling we’ll be scavenging through the house to see what else we can find that lights up under UV.

And speaking of Austin, last week I found a powerful picture book about Austin I’d never heard of: The Tree That Would Not Die. Published a decade ago, it tells the story of the land and the city that grew here from the perspective of the Treaty Oak, the historic tree famously poisoned in 1989. The book addresses the poisoning in simple, chilling fashion, but ends on a hopeful note borne out by the tree’s continued survival.

Can you believe that I’ve lived in Austin since shortly after the poisoning, but have never been to see the tree? I’ll be correcting that, soon as the high temperatures drop below 90.